To me, my wife is Katharyn, and has been for the 22 years I have known her. To her family she is Katie — and has been for a longer time than that.
Here in her home place she answers to either name in context and evinces no cognitive dissonance about the matter. Me, I’m beginning to wonder how I should address her from here on out, now that we are in the early stages of settling in the land of Katie. She suggested I might want to try Kate, but to me she does not seem like a Kate.
It has all got me thinking about families and names.
When I was growing up we hardly ever addressed one another by name face-to-face: it just felt terminally awkward. (What was that about?) By the time my brother and I were young teenagers, we were in the habit of speaking to each other backwards, or in French, or in Morse code — sometimes all at the same time. If one of us addressed the other directly, it was usually in the form of some epithet or other, which need not be recorded here.
From my distance, Katharyn’s family seems a good deal more “normal” than mine was and is — more wholesome and, well, Midwestern. While they have their sticky spots, names aren’t among them. I’ll let you know how the name situation develops.
[Update 2018-12-21] We live with the cognitive dissonance. Katharyn is still Katie to her family and Katharyn to me, and it all seems fine. For my part, I have no more clarity on the oddness of naming in my early years. All others who might have shed light have passed on now: my father in 1959, mother in 2011, brother in 2013. It’s the kind of thing I might have talked about with my brother, but as far as I can recall we never did discuss it.